Well I can’t write about friends and not mention my oldest and dearest, Ava. We have been friends for 40 years…. the very best of friends for 36 of those years. Our lives have steered in different directions for a long while now, but whenever we have the opportunity to see each other it’s like no time at all has passed; we pick up right where we left off.
We know each other’s history from almost the very start. All the embarrassing, little secrets of childhood, the heartaches and the happy times; we’ve shared them all in some fashion. Whether by phone, mail, email or in person we have managed to stay connected over the years and the miles.
Recently, my children and I had the great pleasure of attending a housewarming party at Ava and her husband Doug’s new home. This was no ordinary housewarming and it was not held in just any house. Ava and Doug renovated and moved into her childhood home; the house she grew up in and the one where the two of us spent countless hours together. Growing up, we were seldom separated and Ava’s house was my second home.
Going back there for this occasion was so special. Even though parts of the house have been completely, yet beautifully transformed, it still feels so familiar to me. I know every nook and cranny and every corner and shadow. Walking through the house I could almost hear and see the ghosts of our younger selves, laughing under the covers in her Mom’s bed, listening to music in the “Big Room” and dancing in the rain in the backyard in our long white nightgowns.
Ava’s mother was like my second mother. She was always so sweet and kind and she was always trying to feed me! Of course I didn’t mind. It seemed like I was always hungry then. She took care of us. Made us wonderful meals, encouraged our imaginations and always loved us.
During the weekend of the party, among preparations, guests coming and going and the clean up afterwards, there was one moment in particular that will forever stand out in the forefront of my mind. Ava’s mother, now 84 and confined to a wheel chair is still as lovely and dear as always. She is happy and seeing her daughter married to a wonderful man, living in this house, obviously brings her great joy. At one point during the party she wanted to go up to the “Big Room”, to sit there and visit with people.
The Big Room holds a special place for us all. It is the room where parties are held and it is full of fun and happy memories. It is, as its name implies, a big room. It has a high vaulted ceiling and large windows overlooking the backyard. It is at the end of the hall and up four steps, so to take a wheelchair up to it is no easy task. But coming down the hall I looked to see Doug and my sixteen year old son pick up the chair and carry Ava’s mother up to the Big Room. The relevance of the moment did not pass me by. This house where I spent so many hours as a girl
had always been a part of my past and the memories associated with it were ingrained with me as a child; yet here was MY son, a tall, handsome grown young man carrying this frail woman, who is like a mother to me.
I am almost sorry Ava never had children. I wonder what they would have been like. Would my children and hers have been the inseparable friends that we are? She would have been a wonderful mother, just as she is a wonderful Aunt.
She is one of the most sincere, caring and generous people I know. She is also wise and sensible and has often been my anchor in life’s stormy seas or the voice of reason in my crazy head.
I wish my own daughter would have had a best friend like Ava. There is something about girlfriends in a girl’s or for that matter woman’s life that cannot be filled by a man. Boyfriends come and go, husband although for life cannot share the same connection as a girlfriend. I am fortune to have Ava and the other wonderful women I do have in my life.